WebShop checklist: find the best online retailers for your business

Euroconsumers members have created WebShop, a comparison tool ranking online retailers. Our expert lawyers have developed criteria for spotting reliable and legally compliant web traders. This can support SMEs who purchase goods and services online

With more and more businesses buying services and products online, finding a reliable and trustworthy digital retailer is critical. Delays in delivery or lack of a customer service function can cost companies time and money.

Euroconsumers members’ have created the WebShop comparison tool for e-commerce sites with a wealth of information and advice that’s relevant for SMEs. Those purchasing from Belgium and Italy can visit the WebShop online comparison and find out which retail websites ranked best for product and legal information and customer satisfaction.

Euroconsumers has also created a handy check list for online retail purchases based on the evaluation criteria developed in the WebShop tool:

WebShop checklist: what to look for when you make purchases online

  • Product information. Is the product fully described? Is there an exhaustive description of the products exhaustive with clear images? Is the total price clearly indicated, including VAT and delivery costs? Is there information on product availability and delivery time provided?
  • Seller information: is it easy to establish the identity of the seller? Are physical contact details like address and telephone number available so you can reach them in case of problems.  Are they based in the EU or not? Companies outside of the EU may operate to different jurisdictional rules, or be hard to track down.  You can check their registration with national directories to see if they are legitimate, and also check forums
  • Information about the store: are the conditions of sale clear and easily accessible? Is it a direct B2C or B2B store or is it a platform marketplace? A platform marketplace (like for example Amazon) hosts many smaller third party traders and purchasers will enter into a sales contract with the third party and not the platform host. Marketplaces may offer additional support like protections if the product is not delivered, or a dedicated channel to solve problems if they arise between a buyer and seller.  On the downside, they often do not monitor the products third parties are selling for quality and safety.
  • Purchasing process. Does it take at least two clicks to place an order (to avoid accidental purchases with a single click)? Is it clear whether the product is readily available and is the expected delivery date made clear before payment is taken?
  • Payment process: Is the information on payment methods clear without additional fees or surcharges? Is payment made via a secure procedure?  What payment methods are available? Some have more protections than others – for example, Western Union does not offer any protection to the buyer, unlike PayPal or Visa.  Does the site you are buying form use recognised international security systems? The site address must start with https (not http) and there must be the padlock logo to the left of the browser address bar.
  • Customer service: can the customer services be reached by phone and is the number available for free or will a fee be charged? Is there a clear and simple procedure in case of complaint?
  • Delivery information: is sufficient information provided on the different delivery options? Is the delivery time reasonable?
  • Legal information. Are the terms and conditions clearly formulated and easy to find? Are they within the law? A key one to look out for are whether the right of withdrawal is covered – this is the right to change your mind about a purchase within a 14 day cooling-off period and follow a simple procedure to get a refund.

Contractual and order confirmation documents must be provided to you before the purchase takes place.

You have 14 calendar days to exercise your right of withdrawal: during this period, you must notify the establishment that you wish to renounce the purchase.

The legal warranty of the purchase is two years.

Some products cannot be returned: this is the case for personalized products, sealed (a CD, a cream), or that can not be returned for health or hygiene reasons.